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Selling Art, Not Selling Out

Angela Lussier on Being an Imposter, Living Life by Your Own Rules, and the Importance of Play – Cracking Creativity Episode 47

Angela Lussier is a coach, public speaker, and author of three books. In this episode Angela talks about her journey towards creating her own business, how to overcome the imposter syndrome, why you need to live by your own rules, and the importance of play.

Here are three things you can learn from Angela:

Everyone feels like an imposter

If you think you are the only one who feels like an imposter, you are dead wrong. We all feel like imposters in some way or another. Even those who look like they have it all together have their doubts to.

Angela believes we are all students at something. “Even experts. Even gurus. Even millionaires. Everyone is a student and they may know a lot about what they’re doing in their business, but they still have a lot to learn somewhere else.”

Don’t believe people who tell you they have all the answers. We are all learning together. The key is to have the right mindset. “As long as we have the right intentions of trying to help people and trying to do our best work, then that’s the most we can hope for.”

By talking to a bunch of successful people, Angela has come to realize that you can feel like an imposter and still be successful. Don’t let the imposter syndrome keep you from achieving your dreams.

Live life by your own rules

Too often we feel like we have a standard we need to live up to. We need to be like this person or run our business like that person. But that simply isn’t true.

Angela believes the problem is our fear of being ourselves. “I think a lot of people spend a lot of times being scared and afraid to show what they really want to say and what they really want to do and that’s a major problem.”

Many people get into business without ever considering the lifestyle they want to live, and that’s a mistake. At one point in her career, Angela was living life for everyone else, and it drove her to exhaustion. It was only when she started creating and living for herself that she felt whole again.

Stop living by other people’s expectations. Stop living in fear of being yourself. Determine how you want to live, and make steps towards living that way.

The importance of play

While creating classes for her community, the Do + Make Business District, Angela had the idea of recording one of the lessons at a playground.

Before releasing the lesson, she was scared what her community might think. Would they think it was unprofessional? Would they taker her seriously?
The beautiful thing is, her community loved the idea. They enjoyed seeing her having fun and liked the idea of having fun with business. This gave Angela the courage to experiment even more. She did classes dressed in costumes and played different characters. She wanted to make learning fun again.

Angela also believes in playing as an adult. “Just because you’re a kid doing something doesn’t mean it’s a kid thing. It’s something you can do for your whole entire life, but you abandoned it at some point because you thought you weren’t allowed to do it anymore. That’s a really freeing moment.”

We need to stop being so serious all the time. Play can be an essential part of living a more fulfilling life. We just need to allow ourselves to do it again.


  • about Angela
    • unlikely business owner because she was shy when she was younger
    • part of her felt weird and part of her felt like a leader that wanted to get out
    • wasn’t until she got into working world that she saw she had a creative spirit
    • 2009 – had a disagreement with boss, so she decided to run her own business
      • wanted to help people express themselves
      • began career coaching and speaking
      • had to put her fear aside so she could spread her message with others
    • wrote Anti-Resume Resolution
      • entrepreneurial mindset, knowing yourself, putting creativity into work
    • also released Who’s With Us? – a book exploring whether you should run your own business
      • came about from speaking with people for six years who didn’t know whether they should be an entrepreneur
      • filled with self-assessment
    • created Do and Make Business District group
      • helps small business owners who are new

4:44 “I have a lot of different things going on, but all with the same mission in mind which is to help people express their creativity through their work, and to feel comfortable and confident to do that in a way that feels right to them.”

  • job that she quit
    • executive recruiter – was told it would be like running your own business
      • turned to to be the exact opposite
      •  monitored calls, made sure she was at her desk at a certain time, etc
    • 6 month review – she brought up her own ideas and they freaked out
    • only had $2,000 when she left her job
    • she realized she had to go out and speak
    • first day she reached out to colleges, but they said no
    • then she decided to reach out to libraries and a bunch of them said no
    • one library was interested and asked how many workshops she wanted to do
      • she was stunned, because she only expected to do one
      • she just threw out the number eight
      • they asked her to do 8 during the day and 8 at night, and she agreed
      • booked 16 workshops in 8 weeks
      • reached out to other libraries saying she wanted to bring the same program to them, and this time they agreed
      • booked 32 workshops that day which launched her business
      • once she had those workshops, people came to her for consulting
  • going from wanting to do one workshop to having to do 32
    • she realized she had to write 8 workshops and she didn’t even have one planned
    • wrote 12 pages of content that night because she had to present the following week
    • doing your best work under pressure
  • what was in those 12 pages
    • woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t stop writing
    • already had that information inside of her from all the work she had done previously
    • ended up organizing the pages afterwards
  • being nervous for the first workshop
    • cried the whole way to her first workshop
    • looked out the window thinking she wouldn’t go, they wouldn’t trust her
    • had doubts about the way people would perceive her
    • parents and brother came to the first workshop, which added extra pressure
    • woman came to her after workshop to help polish it
    • man asked how much she charged, she threw out the number $75/hour and was shocked when he agreed
    • did 500 free workshops after that at many different venues
    • created the backbone of her business
    • wrote a script for her first presentation
    • had 85 pages worth of notes for all of her workshops
      • turned into a 225 page book

11:02 “I pulled into the parking lot at the library and I said ‘There’s no way I’m going to build a business if I can’t even do one workshop, and if I want to prove my boss wrong, and let him know that my creativity is not an issue, and that was a huge motivator for me to prove him wrong, I have to go  do this workshop. And this doesn’t have to be perfect, but this has to be the start. I have to start doing this, otherwise no one will find me and I’ll have to go get another job.”

11:22 “It was terrifying, and I’m not going to pretend like I walked in there and everything went great. I was sick to my stomach. I wanted to run away the whole time. I was pretty sure that I was going to fail…. but after that workshop a guy walked up to me and he said ‘I really like what you had to say about resumes, How much do you charge? I would love to hire you’ and I was shocked,

  • evolution of her speeches
    • slowly but surely moved away from notes
    • moved into using bullet points
    • in the beginning she didn’t interact with audience at all
    • started breaking people into small groups with discussions which made it easier and more effective
    • just start and you’ll figure it out

16:30 “All good speakers will tell you the only way to become a great speaker is stage time. You just have to keep getting up there and keep doing it.”

17:01  “I think so many people wait for the moment when they’re ready. They’re like ‘It doesn’t feel comfortable. It feels like it’s too hard. I’m not ready to do this.’ and the big secret is you’ll never be ready. You just have to start and that has been at the core of pretty much everything I teach in my online community and to my clients.”

  • imposter syndrome
    • still has thoughts of being an imposter
    • has never met someone who lives without thoughts of being an imposter, no matter how successful they are
    • being wired to keep ourselves safe
    • our brain telling us we’re not good enough
    • important to hear herself say everything will be okay
    • we’re all students
    • trying the best you can and feeling good about it
    • a lot of people who seem to have it together will tell you they’re scared all the time

19:16 “That voice will always be there. It’s my choice to override it and to say, ‘Hey I really appreciate that you’re trying to keep me safe, but I’m going to do this anyway. I’m not going to die. Everyone is going to be fine, and even if it doesn’t go well, I’m going to learn from it and I’m going to do it differently next time.”

19:53 “We’re all students at something. Even experts. Even gurus. Even millionaires. Everyone is a student and they may know a lot about what they’re doing in their business, but they still have a lot to learn somewhere else. So in some ways, they’re an imposter as well. We’re all imposters. But we’re all just trying to figure it out and do the best job we can every day. And as long as we have the right intentions of trying to help people and trying to do our best work, then that’s the most we can hope for.”

21:26 “To find out that people who are really successful and confident and at the top of their game are just working really hard helps me to realize, if I can just keep working really hard, I can be successful and still feel like an imposter and that’s okay.”

  • act confident to seem confident

22:10 “If you decide to sell your services for a low rate, people will perceive that you don’t know as much, but if you change your rate from $200 to $1000 for whatever you’re selling, all of a sudden you know a lot more, and I think that’s pretty interesting too.”

  • growing up and education
    • was into film and making videos – made music videos and fake news broadcasts
    • did interesting projects with cameras
    • went into communications with film minor
    • had internship with production company
      • did a video for Sesame Street Afghanistan
      • saw woman in position of power
      • wanted to be screen writer, but didn’t want to move
    • first job was in radio at rock station as promotions assistant
      • would allow her to learn promotion and how to interact with fans
      • became the marketing director and manager of interns/event staff
      • realized her creativity was useful in business
      • was able to trade in van for ambulance from a hospital
        • painted it and named it the Raiser Hellraiser
        • became a spectacle that matched demographic
        • got featured featured in Billboard Radio Monitor for excellence in marketing
        • didn’t think much of it at the time because she was in small market
      • left to work in manufacturing – HR/marketing
        • went to recruiting firm for job match, but ended up as a recruiter instead

25:11 “I realized that my creativity was really useful in business because I had a different way of looking at problems that they’ve been trying to solve for a long time.”

  • job as a recruiter
    • was told she could recruit high level employees to  help improve her sales skills
    • also thought she could create her own goals and figure out how to achieve them
    • was never able to establish her creativity in that role because she was forced to read a script
  • not meeting expectations
    • doubted herself
    • asked herself what was wrong
    • boss told her that he/she was disappointed in her
    • that made her realize she wasn’t meant for robotic work
  • Angela’s book Who’s With Us?
    • found it upsetting when she got phone call from people saying they don’t know if they should start their own business
    • people told her they didn’t know what to do
    • no book on whether you should start a business
    • there were books on every business topic but whether you should start a business
    • saw it as her responsibility to write that book
    • put together ten self-assessments and interviewed 30 business owners on how they transitioned
    • makes you look at who you are, what kind of lifestyle you want to create, what sacrifices you want to make and where you want to be

31;15 “I think sometimes aspiring entrepreneurs become so enamored with their idea that they forget to think about how that’s going to impact their life, the people around them, and their future.”

  • surprising things she learned by talking to business owners
    • everybody was terrified
    • people felt like they were putting their family in jeopardy or that they were crazy
    • everyone who was asked whether they would do it again, and they all said yes
    • Lori Cheek – online dating app
      • launched the site without knowing how to do it
      • felt she had to build something

33:06 “I just really love her story. That’s what it really is. You have to be self propelled. You have to keep pushing through those hard parts where you feel like you don’t know what to do next, and I think that’s the story aspiring entrepreneurs really need to hear and to know that, while you may have an awesome support system around you, you have to be your biggest cheerleader, and you have to be dedicated to pushing through every day.”

“Doing what you love can be really hard.”

  • what questions people should be asking themselves
    • What kind of lifestyle do you want?
      • you might not be able to live that style for a few years
    • How does not having a paycheck impact your and your family?
    • What do you want to create down the line if you are successful?
    • envision what could become of your effort
    • look at personal values, definition of success, and the lifestyle you want to create
    • determining what your passion is
      • think about practical day to day and what you have to do to get there
  • her answers to lifestyle, passion, future, and end goal
    • lifestyle – simple home where she feels comfortable and has the basics
      • wants to be able to travel and have a house in the woods
      • spend 4 hours a day on her business
      • wants to help others, but to also create stuff for herself
    • passion – loves cooking and the idea of putting things together and seeing the end result
    • end goal – wants to help people be themselves in their businesses
      • customers just want to see people be themselves
      • loves to see people do their own thing unapologetically and wants to support people who do that
    • Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans – you don’t need a lot of fans, just 1,000 very passionate fans

38:21 “What I’m passionate about is making cool things and expressing my creativity through those things.”

38:53 “I think the end goal is to show people that you can bring your creativity and your ideas and the things that make you, you, to your business and you can still be successful.”

39:00 “You don’t have to pretend to be somebody else to run a business that people care about.”

40:33 “I think a lot of people spend a lot of times being scared and afraid to show what they really want to say and what they really want to do and that’s a major problem… I think I just want to inspire more people to just let it all hang out there.”

“Think about what you’re putting out there, and  what you want to say, and who you want to connect with and how you want to help them and just keeping it simple is totally acceptable.”

  • process vs. the end result
    • creator’s cycle – way of thinking about work that removes the outcome in favor of experimentation
      • way to gather information about yourself
      • being, dreaming, doing, making
      • being/dreaming stage is fun, but thinking about doing becomes hard
      • pushing through fear into making
      • gathering info on what was scary, exciting, or motivating
      • going through layers of the creator’s cycle to find out more information about yourself
      • push through the hard parts and pay attention to what you’re doing
      • teaching how giving is the heart of the creator’s cycle

44:34 “You can gather so much information about yourself and about the things that get you most excited in life just by pushing through the hard part.

  • scheduling out your work
    • creating can be difficult
    • setting parameters for creation so you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time
  • getting caught up doing things right
    • just do it and figure out what went right and what went wrong
  • starting up her community
    • started career consulting in 2009 as an experiment
    • agreeing to everything people asked her to do
    • 2010 – UMass asked her for help with alumni center
    • worked for 2 years and created career planning program for the school
    • left UMass to help friend with marketing
    • another position opened up and joined another consulting firm
    • asked herself why she could help others but couldn’t help herself with her career
    • after helping last client from consulting firm, she went home and stayed there for a month
    • took 3 months off to do whatever she wanted
      • just took time off for herself
    • had memories of creating
      • realized she was an artist
      • thought she had to be a business person not an artist, not both
      • felt she had to make things
    •  people told her they wanted to work with her so she created a community to teach business owner on their own time
    • Do + Make Business District – wanted to inspire to do the work they wanted to do and make impact on the world
      • wanted to help people make things happen as opposed to just talking about making things happen
      • sent out the idea to her newsletter and 25 people signed up to join for $25/month
        • made her accountable to create something for these people
        • made creative classes
        • lifestyle design lesson at a playground
          • people enjoyed seeing her have fun
          • they liked seeing you could have fun with business
        • did classes in costumes, playing characters, and making learning more fun/engaging
        • make it fun and engaging while also imformative
    • being weird and letting it out

55:27 “That’s been really the philosophy behind the whole thing from day one. We’re going to do it anyway, even when it’s hard, even when it sucks, even when we’re tired, even when we don’t want to, we’re going to do the work anyway, and that’s when we’re going to learn, and that’s when we’re going to make an impact.”

58:45 “Just because you’re a kid doing something doesn’t mean it’s a kid thing. It’s something you can do for your whole entire life, but you abandoned it at some point because you thought you weren’t allowed to do it anymore. That’s a really freeing moment.”

  • favorite quote
    • “I’m bored is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great big vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless. It goes on forever inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing. You don’t get to say, I’m bored” – Louis C.K.
    • making ourselves busy instead of exploring
    • setting aside time each week just to be curious
    • being a kid and exploring
    • Get busy living or get busy dying quote from Stephen King
  • morning routine
    • do the least amount of thinking as possible
    • goes to the gym because if she thinks about it, she won’t go
      • doesn’t think about what she will do at the gym, she just goes
    • comes home, makes breakfast of eggs, avocado, and brown rice
    • has coffee, reads email, and starts her work day
    • builds momentum for the day
    • making as few decisions as possible in the beginning of the day
  • books, podcasts, documentaries
    • Chef’s Table on Netflix – features chefs from around the world
      • she becomes inspired by chefs following their dreams and taking new approaches to cooking
      • they do things that other chefs tell them are wrong, but they prove them wrong
    • The Unmistakable Creative – Srini allows people to tell their stories
    • What It Is by Lynda Barry – graphic novel where every page is a collage where she asks a question
      • makes you think about foundational things we don’t think about
      • imagining questions, and figuring out how she arrives at the questions
  • creative people
    • Thom Fox – helps other businesses grow
      • helping people get clear or understand what the problems are
      • came from a background of crime
      • uses power for good instead of evil
      • applied his skillset to help schools and organizations
      • chooses the high road and does the right thing
    • Howard Stern – being strong early in his career even when people didn’t think the format would succeed
      • going on limb for his creative vision
      • he goes out and does his own thing
      • willingness to get fired to protective his vision
  • definition of creativity

1:11:15 “My definition [of creativity] is seeing things through your own lens and being okay with what you see. I think that is a huge life long commitment to be able to see things in your own way and then accepting that, and not telling yourself ‘That’s not how it should be. No one else sees it that way, and I must be wrong.’ but to actually just trust in yourself.”

  • being more creative

1:11:42 “We have to trust what we make and not let judgment or feedback be the determining factor of whether or not it’s good. And once we trust our creativity, more of it shows up for us.”  |   Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Facebook

Anti-Resume Revolution  |  Who’s With Us?  |  Do + Make

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